Coronary artery disease is the most commonly encountered heart disease and accounts for the death of over 370,000 Americans annually. The condition occurs when deposits of plaque, a wax-like substance, obstruct one of the three arteries of the heart. Proper blood flow is thereby prevented and the person affected begins experiencing unpleasant symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath. A severely blocked artery can seriously endanger one's life, as the risk of heart attack is very high.
Luckily, a coronary artery bypass surgery can successfully restore normal blood flow to the heart by creating a detour around the obstructed artery. Dr. Alexander Marmureanu performs over 200 heart bypass surgeries every year with minimal risk of complications and impressive rates of success.
In this video, the cardiothoracic surgeon performs a beating heart bypass procedure, which is slightly different from a traditional intervention. Unlike the latter, beating heart bypass surgery is done off-pump, which means cardiac arrest is not induced and the patients will continue to breathe on their own during the procedure, without the help of a heart-lung machine. It entails significantly less risks for patients with a history of stroke, as well as for those who suffer from conditions like diabetes or liver cirrhosis which makes them unsuitable for traditional surgery.
The patient is a 57-year-old man whose left anterior descending artery is considerably obstructed. A portion of healthy vein has already been collected from his leg, which will subsequently serve as a graft. Dr. Marmureanu begins the surgery by opening the patient's chest cavity. A large incision is made across the middle of his chest and the surgeon then spreads his ribs with the aid of a Finochietto retractor to gain access to the heart. The device is securely fixed to the man's chest and Dr. Marmureanu, helped by a perioperative nurse, starts preparing the graft. The piece of blood vessel is carefully attached to the damaged artery: one end above the obstruction and the other below. This way, the bypass is created: an alternative route through which blood will flow unhindered.
After Dr. Marmureanu ensures the proper placement of the graft, the area which has been operated on is thoroughly cleaned and the Finochietto retractor is removed. Finally, the incision is closed with resistant sutures and two drainage tubes are left inside the patient's chest cavity to help eliminate excess fluid following the surgery. Considering that beating heart bypass is a quite complex procedure, the recovery period can take up to 3 months and regular follow-up visits are mandatory to ensure a safe and complete recovery. Nevertheless, the benefits are substantial, including a reduced risk of heart attack and the cessation of all distressing symptoms associated with coronary artery disease.